Ready to hit the road with your family for a fun filled vacation? Check out this list of tried and true tips from a roadwarrior!

I don’t fly if I can avoid it. Therefore, I drag my family on epic adventures on the highway!

  • Make sure your car is up to date on all maintenance.
    • Tires, brakes, fluid refill, oil change and fresh wipers make ALL the difference. 
  • Car Seat Safety
    • If you are using car seats- review the manufacturers label on the side of the seat to make sure you are in safely in compliance with your child’s weight and height. 
  • Road food
    • Packing a cooler will save your time, money and potentially illness on the road. If you stop in a rural area you are unfamiliar with you might be limited to a single, unpleasant dining option or in some cases- no dining options for MILES. (Looking at you, South Carolina and Arkansas!) 
    • We pack a cooler with cold drinks to avoid paying inflated gas station prices for a soda. (I also like gourmet seltzer, which is not available at gas stations). 
      • By packing a cooler you can transport sandwiches and salads that need to be refrigerated. This is where you can splurge a little – if you have a local deli that you frequent often, get a deluxe sandwich that you will look forward to eating later. Grab a bagel for the road before you hit the highway and pack your HERO away for lunch. 
    • Pack small quantities of tiny foods in multiple baggies. They take longer to eat and kids can snack all day without getting “full”. When boredom strikes- hand them a new bag. 
      • suggestions: 
        • raisins
        • breakfast cereal 
        • pretzel sticks
        • dried fruit
        • apple slices
        • string cheese and mini pepperoni
        • olive and pickle cups 
      • ** You will have to vacuum your car when you get home… (If you have a dog- send them through on a preliminary cleaning mission)
  • Plan your stops! 
    • Road warriors, we learned this the hard way… on a Spring break trip between Virginia and Florida we started our plan with “Let’s leave at 4 pm and drive through the night with the kids!!” By 11:00 pm we realized we were old. We were exhausted, neither kid could sleep in the car and the kicker was one of them had an exorcist moment and became violently road sick. (Sidenote, want to test your marriage? Try cleaning up vomit in a carseat on the side of I-95 at midnight!). We tried to find a hotel room and there was NOTHING. NOTHING. NOWHERE. While bathing a child in the sink of the La Quinta Lobby in Florence, SC after the night auditor took pity on me and brought me a bar of hotel soap, a towel and washcloth and offered my husband towels and spray to help with the “situation” she even tried to find us a room – as far away as Georgia at ANY hotel chain – NOTHING. (3 years later, I’m still so grateful I will 100% tag them in my posting). 
  • Overpack a little…
    • For example… a towel can come in pretty handy in the car..^^ refer back to example A… Also, a wet washcloth with a squirt of Dawn dish soap and kept in a ziplock can clean up messes you just weren’t prepared for… even if it’s just the m&m’d faces of your kids from treating them at the last rest stop to some candy.
    • Don’t overpack the wrong things….
      • *Activating forcefield to repel judgemental comments*… I let my kids have their tablets. THE. WHOLE. CAR. RIDE…. ALLLLL of it. 
        • Why? There are a bajillion ideas on pinterest of what you can do for road trip fun… I’ve tried them and we don’t use them anymore. The educational magnetic lap desk takes up a lot of space. The tiny dinosaur diorama mat is super cool… but, takes up a lot of space. The coloring books and crayons- also awesome… until a crayon falls into the abyss of the floor and rolls into the track for the seat to slide. We have some little toys kicking around, but I don’t pack or buy specific car toys- I’m still picking up tiny Battleship pieces from the last trip between Florida and Iowa. 
        • Kids WILL eventually become bored of their tablets- then, they will talk to you. I actually like talking to my kids in the car- we had a fabulous conversation contemplating if the Grinch has organs… (because he east glass)… on our last road trip. (#youmightbeahomeschoolmomif…your child contemplates organ damage to fictional characters) 
          Always be prepared on the road.
          You never know where a
          scuba mask will come in handy.

        • My tablet tips…
          • If you have more than 1 kid- make sure that some of the items in the tablet movie and app library are the same… because, sometimes EVERYONE wants to play the same thing… or there’s a fight
          • With the above situation, also make sure there are a few things that are different so, no one can copy the other person’s “tablet idea”…or there’s that fight again..
          • INVEST IN HEADPHONES – kid games make annoying sounds.
        • If they are too young to operate a tablet by themselves, invest in a car dvd player. 
          • When my kids were babies and rear facing, one forward facing,  I drove from Virginia to New York by myself (and often). I had a dual headrest dvd player. I would strap the second headset to the rear passenger headrest and the “lead” to the front passenger headrest. It reached a point where I could tell time and my location by how many times we had watched “Cinderella.” 
        • Non-tablet ideas– when my crew were babies, I invested in crib entertainers that I strapped to the rear passenger headrest. I would scour sales and secondhand shops for them. Whenever we stopped I would swap the crib entertainer for another one. “Contained” toys were also our friends. Melissa and Doug have a “magic paint set” that is a water-filled paint brush that you apply to pre-colored pages. No mess = winning in the car. Magnetic mazes that require a lot of concentration and silence were also a big hit; and again, totally self contained. Magnadoodle was a winner for several trips as well.  
        • Take pictures
          • Your kids will remember the road trips adventures forever! Take pictures, mom’s get in them too! 

      <– mountain side picnic in West Virginia. I wish I had packed that towel or a blanket for the car! It was cold in those mountains! 😉

      Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! 
      ***Share one of your road trip memories with us!